Reuters International

By Ed Stoddard

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A senior white South African judge is at the centre of a fresh racism furore over comments attributed to her by a social activist about black culture and rape.

It is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have laid bare the racial tensions that endure more than two decades after the end of apartheid rule.

Social activist Gillian Schutte said High Court Judge Mabel Jansen made the comments to her during an online conversation with her. Schutte reposted the remarks on Facebook and Twitter, raising a storm of condemnation in social and traditional media.

South Africa has some of the world's highest rates of violent crime, a scourge often blamed on poverty, joblessness and glaring income disparities, with minority whites still often better off despite 22 years of black-majority rule.

Reported cases of rape have been on the decline, according to the Institute of Security Studies think-tank, with 43,195 reported in 2014-15, down 7.4 percent from 2008/9, though analysts say the crime often goes unreported.

"In their (black) culture, a woman is there to pleasure them. Period," Jansen said in one of Schutte's reposts.

"I still have to meet a black girl who was not raped at about 12," Jansen said in another repost from Schutte.

On Twitter on Sunday, Jansen said, apparently in response to Schutte's reposts: "What I stated confidentially to somebody in a position to help has been taken completely out of context."

Schutte told the eNCA news channel on Monday she had previously sent the posts "to people in the legal profession to ask what could be done about the content of her utterances".

Jansen was quoted on the online news outlet News24 as saying: "I was referring to specific cases. It was within that context."

She said she had contacted Schutte via Facebook because she understood the activist could give advice on assistance to vulnerable victims.

The Business Day newspaper said the Judicial Services Commission, which deals with complaints against judges, confirmed it was expecting a complaint regarding the posts.

A spokesman said he could not immediately comment but the commission would issue a statement shortly.

Many South Africans took to social media on Monday, demanding Jansen's removal from the bench.

In January, a storm of protest ensued after estate agent Penny Sparrow, a white member of the opposition Democratic Alliance party, referred to black people as "monkeys" in Facebook rant about littering at a public beach.

(Editing by James Macharia and Mark Heinrich)

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